It was breathtaking. A huge room, filled with purple, teal and black balloons, coupled with multicolored lights, served as the backdrop. Women of all ages, sometimes multiple generations together, united for one purpose – to perform a basic mitzvah. There were 1,400 of them, making it the biggest women’s event in Orange County.
The 2016 OC Mega Challah Bake On Thursday, November 10 was all that and more. It brought together women from every city in Orange County and some beyond the county borders. It connected women of every persuasion – Modern Orthodox, Chabad, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and none of the above – in a hands-on, time-honored tradition. Some were making challah for the first time while others were seasoned bakers.
The enthusiasm was palpable. People were chattering with people they never met before or barely knew, getting into the kneading, the rolling and the braiding. They sang, they laughed and they bonded.
The committee, like the event itself, was an eclectic mix of women from Orange County with one goal in mind – to make the OC Mega Challah Bake the best evening ever, according to the chairperson, Shana Segall of Irvine. It was a grassroots effort with a highly professional outcome, from the decorations to the video to the specially prepared sets of ingredients.
This was the third mega challah bake in Orange County. Improved lighting, acoustics and instructions played well with the crowd, as did the ability to purchase kosher food and beverages before the event.
The mega challah bake is part of a worldwide effort, the Shabbos Project, that started in South Africa to bring Jews together in observance of Shabbat. It begins with women baking challah, goes through Shabbat and culminates in a celebratory Havdallah. More than 300 communities throughout the world participated this year.